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I Wish I Had

Expressing Wishes

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I Wish I Had - Present Wishes

The phrase I wish I had ... is used to imagine a present situation. Here are some common phrases with I wish I had ...

Examples

I wish I had more money.
I wish I had more free time.
I wish I had more friends.
I wish I had a better car.
etc.

In the phrase, I wish I had ... 'had' is the past simple form of the verb 'to have'. You can certainly use other verbs with 'I wish ...'.

Examples

I wish I spoke Russian.
I wish I played the guitar.
I wish I drove a Mercedes.
I wish I lived in Seattle.
etc.

The use of the I wish I had ... is very similar to the second conditional because it expresses a situation which is contrary to fact. Look at these sentences comparing the two forms:

Examples

I wish I had a bigger house. = If I had more money, I would have a bigger house.
I wish I knew more people in this town. = If I smiled more, I would meet more people.
I wish I had a driver's license. = If I were 16, I would have a driver's license.

Grammar Review for I wish I had

First Subject + Wish(es) + Second Subject + Past Simple

'Wish' + the past simple is used to expresses wishes about the present. Remember to use standard present simple conjugation with 'es' for he, she and it and 'do / does', as well as the negative 'don't / doesn't' followed by a statement in the past tense.

Examples

She wishes she had more free time.
Do you wish you had more friends?
Does he wish he lived in Chicago?
They don't wish they were bankers.
Jennifer doesn't wish she went to school.

I Wish I Had Had - Past Wishes

It's also common to speak about past wishes with the phrase I wish I had had (done, gone, played, etc.) .... Here are some common phrases with I wish I had had ...

Examples

I wish I had had more free time on my business trip last week.
I wish I had stayed in Florence longer.
I wish I had bought that house.
I wish I had invited Tim to the party.
etc.

Like the phrase I wish I had ... is similar to a conditional form, but this time the past conditional (conditional three). The use of the I wish I had done ... expresses a situation which is contrary to what actually happened in the past. Look at these sentences comparing the two forms:

Examples

I wish I had known his name. = If I had known his name, I would have said hello.
I wish I had bough Sarah a present. = If I bought Sarah a present, I wouldn't have been embarrassed.
I wish I had thought of that idea! = If I had thought of that idea, I would be rich!

Grammar Review for I wish I had done

First Subject + Wish(es) + Second Subject + Past Perfect

Notice that the first part of the sentence is conjugated in the present because a person now wishes that something different had happened in the past. As with the present form, remember to use standard present simple conjugation with 'es' for he, she and it and 'do / does', as well as the negative 'don't / doesn't' followed by a statement in the past tense. 'don't / doesn't' followed by a statement in the past tense.

Examples

Jane wishes she had gone to that restaurant in New York.
Does she wish she had spent more time with her son?
They don't wish they had gone to the play.
Jennifer doesn't wish she had bough a present for Tommy.

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